ROCHELLE — Despite graduating two All-Conference honorees (Britney Salinas and Teddi Hacaga) this past year, the Rochelle varsity softball program will have plenty of experience to lean on when the Lady Hubs return to the field this spring.
Rochelle opens its season at Belvidere North on Wednesday, March 20. The Lady Hubs will look to build on their 2018 campaign (5-21 overall), and head coach Lindsay Suess said the girls are striving to be more competitive in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference.
“We’re excited with what we’ve seen in practice,” Suess said. “We have a lot of returning girls who we expect big things from, and we have some juniors and seniors we’re counting on to fill in some other spots. My expectations are for us to compete in the conference and to double our win count from last year.”
Sophomore Bella Lodico returns to lead Rochelle on the pitcher’s mound after taking over the team’s No. 1 starting spot last season. Junior Ally Reish will also see innings for the Lady Hubs this season. Senior Maddi O’Rorke will work behind the plate as Rochelle’s second-year varsity catcher.
“Pitching will definitely be one of our strengths since Bella’s already pitched for one season on the varsity team,” Suess said. “We want the girls to continue working on getting ahead of batters and making better groundouts and out balls. We don’t need to strike everybody out. We just need to make better outs.”
Three starting infielders are back for the Lady Hubs including seniors Macy Luxton (third base), Becca Bunger (shortstop) and Emilee Dueringer (first base). Senior Mandi Lamb and junior Hannah Luxton will look to cement starting positions in the outfield. Suess said the remaining spots will be open to competition.
“Our infielders have played together for one year,” Suess said. “We’re very fortunate to have a strong group of infielders with experience. We have a couple of girls fighting for the second base spot right now. Mandi played some outfield for us last year, and I think she and Hannah will anchor our outfield.”